Coin shop owners cash in on hobby

By: Cheri March The News Messenger
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When Ric Denton and Jim Fisher show you a $1,000 bill, you can bet it's not play money. The two men keep plenty of rare coinage behind the counter of Lincoln Coin & Jewelry, the shop they opened with their wives last month in downtown Lincoln. As the name implies, Denton and Fisher deal in coins, paper money and jewelry. Among their most valuable items: a 1934 never-in-circulation $1,000 bill priced at $3,850, a 93-S silver dollar for approximately $4,500, and a 1916-D Mercury dime for $9,000. It's a bug that gets you, and once you get it, you're in big trouble, Denton said of currency collecting. Fittingly, the vintage money is kept in an antique built-in 1914 bank vault the size of a walk-in closet “ but with two-foot-thick walls. Of course, there's a much more modern safe inside the vault, Denton said. Better to be on the safe side, considering he places the dollar value of his inventory in the hundreds of thousands. As a longtime coin dealer, Denton brings his knowledge of the coin business and a specialty in early collectibles to the counter, while Fisher offers expertise in modern coins. The business partners met last year at a meeting for the Lincoln Coin Club, which Denton founded. We're cross-training now, Fisher said. I've got the new stuff, he's got the old stuff, and when you put it all together it's a nice collection. Like Denton, Fisher shares a passion for the pricey hobby. I've been collecting since I was a kid, he said. It was the Lincoln penny sets that got me started. Some of his favorites include the complete sets of Kennedy half-dollars and American Eagle silver dollars that are available at the shop. Modern coins are a popular place for young collectors to start, he explained. A lot of young kids come in and they don't know about Sacagawea or Susan B. (Anthony), he said. They don't know anything about coins. When I give them a little history lesson, they seem to get really interested. I've got my own grandkids going with the statehood quarters. Another good bet for newbies is the presidential dollar coin, Fisher said. Four coins featuring non-living presidents have been issued since 2007 and Lincoln Coin & Jewelry carries the most current full set. But not all deals happen behind counter. For collectors determined to set their own price, Denton and Fisher have introduced a bid board. Sellers are invited to bring coins into the shop, where the pieces are bagged and pinned to a wall along with a bid sheet. Bidders need only to make an offer and wait until the auction closes “ approximately every two weeks, Denton said. In addition to currency, the store deals in jewelry “ particularly gold and gems “ and buys scrap gold, silver and platinum, he said. Appraisal is also available. Lincoln Coin & Jewelry is located at 519 G St. (across Highway 65 from Ace Hardware). Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. For information, call 434-2556.